In January of 2020, the UK’s Climate Change Committee released a ground-breaking report into how the UK must change in order for it to meet its 2050 Net-Zero carbon challenge.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this report from our point of view is the findings on how land use must change, and particularly the suggestion that Energy Crops should take up no less than 3% of the UK’s land by 2050. These are some of the key findings:
- Increase the use of land for energy crops to 23,000 hectares per year.
- Continue to exclude combustion processes that exclusively use biomass from the EU ETS or its UK successor.
- Continue to support biomass generation through existing market mechanisms in the short term. Support should transition to best uses longer term.
- Introduce a requirement for biomass combustion facilities to source a fixed proportion of their crops from the UK.
- Concessionary finance to top up funding to cover the loss of annual income while the crop is being established.
On forestry, it recommends:
- The main instrument should be a market mechanism (e.g. trading scheme or auctioned contracts), which could be funded by emitting sectors (e.g. fossil fuel suppliers or airlines). This mechanism could also apply to agroforestry schemes that deliver clear carbon sequestration benefits.
- Public money should fund the non-carbon benefits of afforestation, such as biodiversity and flood alleviation, which will also have benefits for climate change adaptation.
- Public money for carbon and non-carbon benefits of and broadleaf management.
- Adopt existing CAP cross-compliance5 rules on protecting hedgerows into UK legislation.
- The tax treatment of woodlands should be reviewed and, if necessary, amended to ensure there is no disadvantage to farmers from changing their use of land to forestry.
We will continue to lobby government to take more notice of what energy crops are able to do to help achieve the UK meet the ambitious 2050 net-zero goal… exciting times are ahead for those who are considering planting energy crops and for those who’ve already embarked into the new paradigm!